Sometimes, all it takes is a ‘never say never’ attitude and a strong will to achieve success in spite of various obstacles. Poverty is a challenge that can keep many children in our country from growing up to achieve their dreams. But there are also many children who make it through the hardships and soar to glorious heights. Saraswati from Karnataka is one such child who believes that sky is the limit when it comes to education. At 22, Saraswati is a Master of Science in Bio Technology and all set to pursue her PhD in Bio Technology.
Saraswati walks in to the Akshaya Patra office and awaits us at the reception. She quickly picks up the newspaper and starts skimming through the pages. When we meet, she is quick to share some current updates. She wears a pleasing smile and is eager to tell us about herself. She was a beneficiary of the Akshaya Patra mid-day meals programme throughout High School.
Saraswati is the second of six children born to a couple residing in rural Karnataka. Her father, Sabanna works as a daily wager and mother works as a domestic help. Sabanna and his wife, Basavalingamma could not complete their education due to financial difficulties. So what inspired Saraswati to study this much? Her story begins with her sister’s marriage at the age of 17. “My older sister, Shashikala had to drop out of school and get married due to some inevitable issues. This incident had a strong effect on me and that was the day I made up my mind that I will complete my education and live an independent life,” Saraswati explains.
Shashikala also constantly insisted that her siblings, especially Saraswati, complete their education. Realising the seriousness behind her sister’s words, Saraswati embarked on her journey towards success at the tender age of 13. She scored excellent results throughout her high school. But she was lost in translation in Pre-University College since the medium of imparting lessons was English and Saraswati had attended a Kannada Medium school right from kindergarten. However, her college friends were of great support to her, says Saraswati. “My friends would sit with me and discuss whatever was being taught in class. They would make sure I have understood everything and were very patient with all my doubts and queries. Had it not been for them, I would have left college long ago, at the junior level,” she shyly admits.
Though they come from an economically disadvantaged background and their parents are less educated, Saraswati and her siblings have changed the status of their family for the better. Her younger sister, Jayashree, is now pursuing Engineering in Information Science in Bangalore. Her younger brother, Akshay, is in the III semester of Graduation in Arts. Her youngest brothers, Naveen and Chandan are in Pre-University College and VIII standard, respectively.
Almost all of Saraswati’s siblings have been and are beneficiaries of The Akshaya Patra Foundation during school. “The midday meal was of great support to all of us including our parents,” says Saraswati. The organization works for the betterment of the society by strengthening it at the grass root. The Akshaya Patra meal is nutritious along with being tasty. It has helped millions of families cope with the problem of affording a square meal for their children.
With the same enthusiastic smile, Saraswati says, “I myself had no idea that I would grow up to be a graduate even! I love everything about studies. When I realized this, I also realized that I wanted to study as much as I could. I aspire to research in oncology and better the lives of cancer patients for which I’m currently preparing for the NET. I also hope to become a Professor so that I can share my knowledge with those who are enthusiastic about education just like me.”
A Year Later
Saraswati passed with first class in MSc. She is currently pursuing Ph. D in Pest Management in Bangalore University. She wrote GATE exam recently and secured 1928th rank in the National Eligibility Test and had a choice to join any of the IITs. She also plans to write NET soon.
Bravo! Saraswati. We wish you all the best.